Lima Group Urges Maduro Not to ‘Delay’ Elections in Venezuela
By Voice of America/VOA August 12, 2019
On July 23, the Lima Group reiterated its support for the government led by Interim President Juan Guaidó. Representatives of countries taking part in the diplomatic initiative to find solutions to the Venezuelan crisis voiced their support for Guaidó in a joint statement at the conclusion of the group’s 15th meeting in Argentina.
The meeting took place six months after Guaidó took over as interim president and was recognized by more than 50 countries worldwide, including the United States.
The Lima Group member countries support Guaidó’s decision “to seek a Venezuelan solution to his country’s crisis through ongoing efforts and urge the dictatorship of Nicolás Maduro not to use said processes to delay a call for guaranteed presidential elections as soon as possible. If that objective isn’t met, measures to exert pressure and additional sanctions will be imposed,” the statement indicated.
Participating leaders listened to Guaidó’s message through a video call and recognized what they consider as his “unyielding leadership” in the fight for recovering democracy through free elections.
Argentine Foreign Affairs Minister Jorge Faurie read the final statement, which captured the opinion of participating countries, including Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Paraguay, Peru, and Venezuela. Faurie also highlighted the participation of El Salvador and Ecuador, as observers, and of Enrique Iglesias, the European Union’s special adviser for Venezuela.
In their final declaration, member countries reiterated their condemnation of Maduro’s “systematic human rights violations,” alluding to “documented and confirmed” situations in the report the United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, released after her visit to Caracas.
Representatives decided to forward the report to the International Criminal Court prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, who already has proceedings under way based on requests various countries submitted against Maduro.
The countries consider that the UN High Commissioner’s report “leaves no margin for some countries to continue to support Maduro’s illegitimate regime,” and urged them to join the international community so that “rule of law and democracy can be restored in Venezuela,” since their support of the government in dispute “threatens the entire region’s stability.”
The Lima Group also repudiated “the candidacy presented by Maduro’s illegitimate regime on behalf of Venezuela for a seat on the UN Human Rights Council, and request that, if elected, the seat be occupied by Venezuela’s legitimate government. Likewise, they express their support for Brazil’s candidacy to said Council.”
They also agreed to encourage other states, including the United States and the European Union, to create mechanisms to support the documentation and investigation of incidents of corruption, narcotrafficking, and grave violations against human rights in Venezuela.
The group highlighted that the solution to the Venezuelan crisis belongs to the Venezuelans. “That principle is incompatible with the current presence in Venezuela of military, security, and intelligence agents” of countries that support Maduro’s disputed government, members added.
Migration was also mentioned in the Lima Group’s final statement, with member countries reiterating concerns about the aggravated exodus of Venezuelans who seek to flee the crisis. The members called for continued regional coordination and requested more financial aid for countries receiving immigrants to provide an effective response to migrants’ needs.
“The crisis in Venezuela is of a regional dimension with global impact,” said the group. “The restoration of democracy in Venezuela is a necessary condition for Latin America to declare itself on the path of freedom and prosperity.”